Dubki of discord. Rosneft manager accused of attempted raiding takeover of cottage community in Moscow region
Forcible takeovers, smear campaigns, forging documents, property damages, and fraudulent elections – the intensity of emotions in a small cottage community located in the Chekhov district of the Moscow region resembles a rebellion in a banana republic. The CrimeRussia performed an inquiry into the 14-year-long battle fought by the residents of Dubki+ (Oaks+) cottage noncommercial partnership.
A true war has been waged for many years in a cottage noncommercial partnership located on Simferopol highway 68 km from the Moscow Ring Road. The entire community is divided into two rival groups. Instead of the countryside recreation and gardening, its members are emotionally reshuffling the Management Board, sometimes using threats and force, get physical, and sue each other. The small cottage community is well-known not only in Chekhov Town Court, but in Moscow Regional Court as well. The number of examined and dismissed lawsuits related to Dubki+ is over 100; at least 70 of those were filed to annul the results of earlier elections of the Chairman of the Management Board and recognize his actions illegal. So much noise and screaming, so many feathers flying... Isn’t it too much for a small gardening partnership? The CrimeRussia decided to figure out the value of the matter in dispute and examined arguments of the parties on both sides of the fence.
A duality of power exists in Dubki+ for several years already. Some cottagers support the legitimate – in their opinion – power in the person of Viktor Vorobiev, Chairman of the Cottage Noncommercial Partnership, while others support so-called ‘opposition’ involving a number of homeowners earlier expelled from the noncommercial partnership for various wrongdoings. Since the early 2000s, almost all of them had run for the Chairman of the Dubki+ Management Board.
Battle for Dubki
The board shack used as the office of the noncommercial partnership has seen a number of takeovers. The conflict between the rival groups continues since the creation of the cottage community, but it has entered the ‘acute’ phase in 2003. At that time, Evgeny Shcherbak was in charge of Dubki+; according to members of the noncommercial partnership, he had arbitrarily appointed himself its Chairman and Accountant.
In 2003, Dubki+ had very little in common with the current comfortable cottage community featuring developed infrastructure and nicknamed for that Chekhov’s Rublyovka. 14 years ago, there were virtually no roads in the settlement and hydro was frequently cut off for non-payment. After one of such cut-offs, the noncommercial partnership has been fined 700 thousand rubles ($11.9 thousand). The residents were displeased with the performance of the Management Board and rebelled. Evgeny Shcherbak has been ousted at a general meeting and respected art photographer Sergei Antonov appointed the Chairman instead. According to one of the cottagers, this appointment was unacceptable for certain persons who had their own plans on the future of Dubki+. Shortly after that, Antonov was cruelly beaten by unknown assailants and several months later died in the hospital. Many residents of Dubki+ had directly linked the death of Antonov with his activities as the Chairman of the Management Board – however, the law enforcement authorities failed to identify such links and haven’t instituted a criminal case.
After the death of Antonov, the general meeting has appointed retired military officer Viktor Vorobiev the Chairman of the Management Board. According to Vorobiev, after an attempt to figure out the whereabouts of funds collected from the cottagers by Evgeny Shcherbak and his associate Aleksander Ivanov to connect the community to gas services, he was beaten as well.
In 2005, Ivanov has forged, with the assistance of Shcherbak, minutes of the general meeting of the cottage noncommercial partnership and attempted to seize the power and appoint himself the Chairman. However, following a lawsuit filed by the cottage community members with Chekhov Town Court, the self-appointment of Ivanov was annulled and he and Shcherbak were expelled from the noncommercial partnership.
Currently, the main contender for power in Dubki+ is Igor Vladimirovich Sidorov, an acting manager of Rosneft Public Joint Stock Company, taking sides with Shcherbak and Ivanov. On September 10, 2016, Ivanov and Shcherbak have restricted the attendance of the rival group of cottagers, held a general meeting of the noncommercial partnership without a quorum, and elected a parallel Management Board chaired by Sidorov.
Video: One of the revolts in Dubki+
Cottagers supporting Vorobiev claim that Sidorov has provided knowingly false information to the relevant inspection of the Federal Tax Service in order to register himself as the Chairman in the Consolidated State Register of Legal Entities. Two courts have later declared the resolution of that meeting illegal: first, Gagarinsky District Court of Moscow and then Moscow Regional Court. However, the takeover attempts continued in the cottage community.
According to open sources, Igor Sidorov is a Deputy Head of the Department of Oil Field Services and Supervising of Rosneft. If he were employed somewhere else, the cottagers would be left to their own devices – but because the conflict involved a high-ranked manager of the largest oil and gas company in Russia, it has escalated to the federal level.
Letters to Sechin
In late November, a number of Internet portals wrote about a collective letter sent to Igor Sechin, Chief Executive Officer and Chairman of the Management Board of Rosneft Public Joint Stock Company, by members of Dubki+ and asking him to ‘appease’ Igor Sidorov, deputy head of a Rosneft department, who “is sheltering himself behind the state corporation and trying to seize the power in the cottage noncommercial partnership and lay hands on the community’s gas main.
Many people believe that the main reason behind the new escalation of the simmering conflict is the recently commissioned cottage community’s gas main. Based on the documentation, its capacity exceeds the needs of Dubki+ manyfold (the partnership uses only 10% of it) – and the gas can be supplied to neighboring cottage communities for good money. According to some information, the value of that asset is over 500 million rubles ($8.5 million), and both rival groups are willing to lay hands on it.
The letter to Sechin written by the supporters of Vorobiev (and likely with his active involvement) describes the actions of the Rosneft managers and active member of the cottage partnership.
Supporters of Vorobiev claim that since 2015, Igor Sidorov “has created and taken charge of a group of persons, not members of the cottage partnership, who launched a frenzied activity with the purpose to depose Viktor Vorobiev, the current Chairman of the Management Board of Dubki+”.
The letter states that in 2015–2016, Sidorov was a member of the internal audit commission of the cottage community, and the general meeting has ousted him from that post prior to the expiration of his term. The reason behind the dismissal of Sidorov was his attempt to seize power in the noncommercial cottage partnership in order to take control over the common assets of the community “and administer the gas facilities arbitrarily”. After that general meeting, the above-mentioned attempt to seize power was made, including the submission of false information to the Consolidated State Register of Legal Entities. Sidorov failed to present to the court documents proving the legitimacy of his appointment and explained this by a theft. His opponents claim that the meeting had been held without a quorum and its results were falsified.
The authors of the letter believe that the above actions of the Rosneft manager have resulted in the institution of a criminal case against him under Article 170.1 of the Criminal Code of the Russian Federation (Falsifying the Consolidated State Register of Legal Entities, a Register of Owners of Securities, or a Depositary Record-Keeping System). According to Viktor Vorobiev, the case has been instituted by an investigator for special cases of the Administration for Special Cases of the Main Investigations Directorate in the Moscow region of the Investigative Committee of the Russian Federation (ICR).
The order to institute criminal proceedings has been published by supporters of Vorobiev on several information portals, but the authenticity of that document was not confirmed yet.
In addition, Vorobiev notes that the Department for the Town of Chekhov of the Ministry of Internal Affairs (MIA) of the Russian Federation is currently checking the spending of monetary funds by Sidorov in the period when he was illegally registered in the Consolidated State Register of Legal Entities as the Chairman of Dubki+.
Shortly after the submission of the letter to Sechin by supporters of Vorobiev (probably, even before its delivery to the addressee), a ‘refutation’ has appeared. The second letter to the Rosneft CEO has been published on another ‘official’ web site of Dubki+ cottage noncommercial partnership; it is signed by some Igor Likhovetsky, yet another ‘Chairman of the Management Board of Dubki+’. Supporters of Sidorov indignantly condemn the defamation of him and regret that the slanderers divert Igor Sechin from “state affairs” over little things.
According to a ‘neutral’ member of Dubki+ cottage community, Konstantin Anatol’evich Likhovetsky is a new figure in the ‘Vorobiev vs. Sidorov game of chess’. He says that the team of Sidorov–Ivanov–Shcherbak has brought Likhovetsky into action after the Sidorov’s fiasco in the last-year revolt in Dubki+.
It is known that on September 16, 2017, Konstantin Likhovetsky, a member of the cottage noncommercial partnership, has organized and held a meeting of Dubki+ members according to the same scenario – without a quorum – and appointed himself the Chairman of the Management Board. He refused to present powers of attorney and registration log book to the Management Board chaired by Vorobiev. On September 19, Likhovetsky has submitted an application to the Tax Inspection for the Town of Chekhov of the Federal Tax Service in order to register himself as the Chairman in the Consolidated State Register of Legal Entities – but the tax authority refused to do so. Apparently, its officers still remember a similar story involving Igor Sidorov.
Currently the Management Board chaired by Likhovetsky – unrecognized by Vorobiev and little known to Dubki+ residents – is acting as an additional propaganda outlet for the Sidorov’s team in the fierce ‘information war’ waged by the rivals with varying success.
Web site of the cottage community maintained by Igor Sidorov
It is necessary to note that both parties are pretty skilled in such wars and have mastered their technical aspects. Currently each side has an active Youtube channel; three (!) different web sites of Dubki+ cottage noncommercial partnership exist and are updated on a regular basis: dnt-dubki.ru, dubkiplus.ru, and oaktreesplus.ru. The first two portals, controlled by Likhovetsky and Vorobiev respectively, pretend to be official. Oaktreesplus.ru belonging to Sidorov poses as an independent public online resource.
Web site of the cottage community maintained by Viktor Vorobiev
All the three web sites demonstrate similar contents: the opponents throw mud at the rivals, report successful local operations, and make excuses for failures. The style is similar as well – emotional and alarming, mixed with ‘care’ about other members of the cottage community. Numerous court verdicts, minutes, records from security cameras, and other evidence are present as well.
In addition to the attempted takeover, supporters of Vorobiev accuse Sidorov of a number of other wrongdoings, including duly documented thefts of hydro in early 2000s by tweaking the hydro meter, invalidation of his Ph.D. dissertation by the Supreme Attestation Commission of the Russian Federation, and using the authority of Rosneft for personal gain.
The opponents of Vorobiev have plenty of arguments as well. Together with accountant Martynenko, Vorobiev is accused of repeated embezzlements of funds belonging to members of Dubki+ (although the law enforcement authorities refuse to institute a criminal case over these allegations), illegal addition of lands, illegal usage of the cottage community infrastructure, and frauds with re-registration of other people’s lots.
Video: Opponents of Vorobiev accuse him of fraud
According to a member of the cottage noncommercial partnership, the current situation in Dubki+ is a caricature of political battles in a corruption-stricken third-world country.
When the struggle for power becomes a goal in itself, ordinary people are forgotten. Instead of improving the cottage community, the contenders for power are spending residents’ money and time on endless meetings and lawsuits. The CrimeRussia source believes that the leaders of both rival parties deserve close attention of the law enforcement authorities – there are mountains of documentary evidence of their illegal actions.